For all of its bad rap, inflammation is actually important to our health. When we sustain an injury, inflammation is needed to limit the damage to our bodies and to the injured area. Sometimes though, our body might turn on our inflammatory pathways and not be able to turn it off. There is a growing number of studies showing that chronic inflammation might be an underlying factor for many health conditions and degenerative diseases, including arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer.
There are numerous causes of inflammation – an acidic diet, bad fats, refined foods, strenuous exercise, free radicals from environmental pollutants, and even stress. Some are avoidable or can be eliminated from our lives, others can’t be or are things that just aren’t easy to say goodbye to.
However, for every food that could contribute to inflammation in our bodies, there is a food that is great at supporting the body’s anti-inflammatory processes and functions. Here are three of my fave inflammation busters.
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Curcumin, a phytochemical of turmeric, is responsible for this spice’s potent anti-inflammatory effects. It works by inhibiting pro-inflammatory agents and pathways. Everyone knows turmeric as a key spice in curries, but its subtle flavour can be enjoyed in many dishes. Add it to potato hash or to a tofu scramble for a little extra flavour and a whole lot of anti-inflammatory fun. Combine it with black pepper to up the absorption of curcumin.
Berries are a rich source of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are key when it comes to disarming inflammation-causing free radicals. Is there any way to not enjoy them? Add them to a smoothie or just enjoy them fresh. Berries top the list in terms of pesticide use in conventional farming, so buy organic and local for optimal nutritional benefit.
The anti-inflammatory effects of ginger have been valued for centuries playing a role in many traditional medicinal practices. Its active compounds work by inhibiting prostaglandin and leukotriene production. These dual actions are leading researchers to believe that ginger may be more effective than NSAIDs – all while having fewer side effects. Add this spicy root to tea, smoothies, and stirfries.
What are your favourite ways to use these foods?